Customizing My Emotional Spin Cycle:

Data Analysis


Psych 409b--Fall 2001--G15

Dr. Leon James, Instructor


By:  Nicole Reaves

December 5, 2001

Link to report instructions



    In this report, which is my report 2, I will describe how I used the emotional spin cycle in helping to change from spending most of my day on the negative side of the cycle to spending more time on the positive side.  Well, in order to understand what I mean you first need to understand what is meant by the emotional spin cycle.  My report 1 is an annotated bibliography in which I explain the emotional spin cycle and many of the terms that go along with understanding the cycle.  Before I move on to how the emotional spin cycle was represented in this report, let me review the emotional spin cycle.  First, take a look at the following diagram that my instructor, Dr. James, developed representing the emotional spin cycle.




    There are 4 zones that make up this cycle.  Zones 1 and 4 represent others and zones 2 and 3 represent self.  The left side of the cycle is the negative side and the right side of the cycle is the positive cycle.  The cycle begins on setting one and continues through setting twelve.  Within each zone there are three settings that represent feeling, thinking, and doing.  Feeling, thinking, and doing all make up what is known as the threefold-self.  If you were to pick out any moment during your day, you would find that you are always moving between these three ideas that make up the threefold-self.  You will also find that you are either on the positive side or the negative side of the cycle.  The following diagram is a more detailed picture with examples of what each of the 12 settings represent.


    Let me explain how the cycle works in our daily lives.  If someone feels angry (setting 1), they follow this by thinking emotionally impaired thoughts (setting 2) such as thinking about getting revenge.  They then follow their thinking with doing aggressive or destructive behavior (setting 3).  The others part of the cycle involves others in our feeling, thinking, and doing.  The self half of the cycle involves feelings, thinking, and doing toward self.  I didn't realize before taking this class, but my instructor has pointed out that most people spend their day on the negative side of the emotional spin cycle.  This class offered an opportunity for us to work on trying to spend more time on the positive side of the cycle.  In order to do this, we would need to use what are called bridges.  The red bridge is what we use when crossing from setting 2 to setting 11.  This bridge is also known as determination because that is what you use to make the red bridge successful.  The following are some examples of what you can say to yourself to make the red bridge successful:


--convince yourself it's better for you to forgive and forget insults

--remind yourself that aggressive behavior won't bring you what you want

--reaffirm the human responsibility you bear to be fair and forgiving

The blue bridge is what we use when crossing from setting 5 to setting 8.  This bridge is also known as resistance because resisting those negative thoughts will result in the ability to move to the positive side of the emotional spin cycle.  The following are some examples of what you can say to yourself to make the blue bridge successful:

--reject the idea that the worst is going to happen

--reaffirm your belief that you deserve dignity and love

--remind yourself there's a big difference between fantasy and actuality


Society and the future

     The emotional spin cycle is always occuring in everyone.  As I already stated, most people spend most of their day on the negative side of the spin cycle.  This negativity usually does not only involve one person.  Even if you are having negative thoughts about yourself, others are often aware of these thoughts because of the actions that go along with the thoughts.  I remember the last time I went back to my home town to visit family I hadn't seen in a couple of years.  I felt very uncomfortable because the whole day all I was hearing from people were negative ideas.  I had to listen to people talk about how bad they always felt and who had done them wrong.  I found that this talk made me sad that all they had to talk about were negative things.  As I look back, I can't think of anything positive that was said the whole day.  

    It is very important in our society that people become more aware of their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and how they not only effect themselves but also those around them.  This is a step that schools are now teaching their students.  In my son's school, every morning the teachers read a scenario to the students.  This scenario involves situations that the students may find themselves in and helps them talk out how they can deal with the situation.  They discuss how the situation makes them feel and how they think others that may be involved feel.  They are then presented with positive ways in which to resolve the conflict.  I think this is a strong positive move in helping people better understand their emotional spin cycle.  My son will grow up being much more aware of his three-fold self than I was prior to taking this class.  If all schools take this step with their students, over time it would help to lower the overall levels of negativity throughout our society.

Data Collection and Analysis


Project Design

    The purpose of this project was to learn what steps to take in order to move out of the negative side of the spin cycle into the positive side of the cycle.  The Threestep Method (AWM method) was used in order to achieve this goal.  This method allows you to control the daily emotional spin cycle by using three steps.

  1.  (A)cknowledge - you have to be able to admit that you need help in controlling the negative side of your spin cycle.

  2. (W)itness - you must witness your threefold self in the negative side of the spin cycle and record these observations through data collection.

  3. (Modify) - You must modify your spin cycle in a selected area and then move on to other areas also in need.


        The first thing that I had to do for this project was to admit that I needed to learn how to control the negative side of my daily emotional spin cycle.  I find that I get angry on a daily basis and have had absolutely no control over this.  I want to be able to be happy and spend much more time on the positive side of my spin cycle.  I don't like how I feel, think, and act when I am on the negative side of the cycle.


        This project required me to record my threefold self three times a day for two weeks.  The first week I focused on witnessing my threefold self in the negative side of the daily emotional spin cycle.  Every morning, afternoon, and evening I recorded an intense feeling as well as the thinking and doing that went with it.  This meant that I had witnessed my threefold self at least three times each day.  Also, at the end of each day I collected Global Ratings.  There were six ratings:

    1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)

    2.  What was my strongest level of satisfaction with myself today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)

    3.  What was my best level of effectiveness or productivity today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)

    4.  What was my best level of coping successfully with my feelings today:  (1=very ineffectual; 10=extremely effective)

    5.  What is your current level of hope for the future:  (1=little hope or brightness; 10=extremely hopeful and bright)

    6.  What was the worst level of negativity or selfishness of some other people around you:  (1=almost no negativity or selfishness observed; 10=extremely strong negative or selfish behavior observed)


        The second week of the project is when I proceeded to modify my behavior.  This week also involved recording my threefold self in the negative spin cycle three times a day (morning, afternoon, and evening).  This second week is different because this is when I used a Bridge to intervene to go from the negative side of the cycle to the positive side.  For this project, I focused on using the Bridge to intervene with my thinking to change my thinking from negative to positive which in turn would make my actions positive.  If I was in the negative red (others), then I would use the Red Bridge (Determination) to achieve moving to the positive red (others).  I would use the Blue Bridge (Resistance) to move from the negative blue (self) to the positive blue (self).  There are different self-regulatory sentences that can be used to increase your strength of the red bridge and the blue bridge.  The stronger these bridges are, the more successful you will be at crossing from the negative to the positive.


    Red Bridge self-regulatory Prompts  

--convince yourself it's better for you to forgive and forget insults

--remind yourself that aggressive behavior won't bring you what you want

--reaffirm the human responsibility you bear to be fair and forgiving


Blue Bridge self-regulatory Prompts

--reject the idea that the worst is going to happen

--reaffirm your belief that you deserve dignity and love

--remind yourself there's a big difference between fantasy and actuality


Samples from Week One


Day 3

    Morning:  This morning I got frustrated with my son because I had ask him to get ready for school.  Twenty minutes later I go to his room and he is playing and still hasn't gotten dressed.  I thought to myself:  "Great, now he will be late for school and so will I.  Why is it that when his dad tells him to do something, he always does it.  But when I ask him to do something, I have to ask over and over again and check to make sure he is doing what he is asked to do."  Now, I had to get my son to hurry up.  I had to help him get dressed and then tell him to "Hurry up!!"  I raised my voice several times trying to get him to move more quickly.

    Afternoon:  This afternoon I was at school having my lunch break.  I was sitting watching the T.V. realizing how very bored I was.  I had already sat through three classes and still had one more to go.  I was thinking to myself that "I should just go home.  I wouldn't be that big of a deal if I miss one class.  But I've already missed this class twice before.  I guess I have to go."  So, I continued watching T.V. until it was time to go to class.  I really didn't want to go, but I did.

    Evening:  I picked my son up from school today.  He had done some of his homework today which made me happy.  However, when we got home it was a whole other story.  Everytime I looked, my son would be sitting at his desk playing instead of working.  This continued for two hours.  I was very angry at this point.  I thought:  "I am so tired of going through this same routine almost every night.  I wish he would just do his work in a normal amount of time like most kids."  I found myself raising my voice at him everytime I looked and he wasn't working.  I even put him in time out to see if that would work.

Daily Global Ratings

1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)     7      


Day 5

    Morning:  This morning was actually a great morning.  I felt great when I got up because I had gotten such a good nights sleep.  My son got himself ready for school on time and I took him to school and dropped him off for breakfast.  I thought on my drive to school:  "Wow, I'm actually going to make it to school without having to feel so rushed."  I found that I was very patient with other drivers and often made room for other drivers to change lanes.  I usually don't do this because I am in such a rush.

    Afternoon:  I stopped by work this afternoon because I needed to place an order.  I hoped to be in and out quickly because I wanted to get home and have a few minutes to relax before I had to pick my son up from school.  When I was in the office a shift manager came in and proceeded to tell me about something wrong that another employee was doing.  They wanted me to take care of the problem.  This made me angry.  I thought:  "I'm only here to call in an order.  You're a manager, you take care of the problem."  I found myself telling the shift manager, "As a shift manager you should be capable of handling these problems.  If I wasn't here what would you do?  If you can't handle the employees, then maybe you shouldn't be a manager."

    Evening:  My son came home from school today with extra homework because he didn't work and get his classwork done.  He decided he wanted to play around instead.  This made me very frustrated because he still isn't doing the work that I know he can do.  I thought "Oh great, here we go again.  It's not like I have any of my own homework to do(sarcastically)."  When he asked for my help with an addition problem, I already was talking in a tone in which he knew I was angry.  However, after helping him with I few problems, I became more frustrated when I felt that he wasn't trying to understand the work.  He just wanted me to give him the answers.  After about an hour of trying to help him, I had to pull away.  I told him to just put what he thought the answer was and I would check it when he was done with the whole worksheet.  


Daily Global Ratings

1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)     8    

Day 6

    Morning:  This morning I woke up still feeling very sleepy.  I was dissatisfied with myself for not going to bed earlier last night.  I was thinking about how I really didn't want to get up and I would just hit the snooze button one more time.  I really didn't want to get up and go to school.  I stayed in bed and continued to hit the snooze button two more times before climbing out of bed.  I moved very slow when getting ready for school.

     Afternoon:  This afternoon I got very angry at another car (driver) for not moving out of my way when I was driving home from school.  I thought things to myself like "Excuse me (sarcastically) but you need to move out of my way.  It's not like I have anywhere else to go.  There's noone in the next lane, so what is your problem that you can't move over and let me in?"  Following these thoughts were my actions.  I began talking aloud in my car as if the other driver could hear me.  "Thanks so much for giving me sooo much room to come over (sarcastically).  What an idiot."

    Evening:  When I picked my son up from school, I became very frustrated with him because he didn't do his homework in afterschool care.  I thought to myself, "Why didn't he just do his work?  He knows he's supposed to do this every day.  I have my own school work to do and didn't want to spend the whole night working on his."  I followed these thoughts by raising my voice when talking to my son.  The entire ride home and after arriving home, I questioned him as to why he didn't do his work during afterschool care.  I told him that I wasn't happy that he didn't do what he was supposed to do.  I was raising my voice at him the entire time I was talking to him.

Daily Global Ratings

1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)     7  


Summary from Week One

    After reviewing my records from week one, I realized that there was a common theme that made me angry.  Every afternoon, Monday thru Friday, I found that my anger level was very high.  This anger was related to my son.  I would get frustrated with him for not completing homework during his afterschool care and then I would get frustrated when trying to help him with his homework.  I did not like the way I acted with my son and was determined to control my anger and focus toward the positive side of my emotional spin cycle.  At this time, I had completed the first step of the threestep method by Acknowledging that I needed to gain control over my negative spin cycle.  If you look at my global ratings you can see that my level of coping successfully with my feelings was very low.  By recording my threefold self during the week one and week two, I have successfully Witnessed myself in the negative spin cycle.  The final step to help with my anger toward my son in these situations was to Modify my spin cycle by using the Red Bridge.  I would now like to share some samples from week two and I will then summarize my findings.


Samples from Week Two

Day 2

Evening:  This evening I was feeling anger towards my son for not doing his homework at  afterschool care.  I thought "Here we go again.  Why is it so difficult for him to remember to do homework?"  At this time I emplemented the Red bridge.  I thought to myself "Relax.  Getting angry hasn't accomplished anything before.  Just have him get to work when he gets home and don't raise your voice when talking to him."  I could feel the tension in my body because of being angry but I was successful at talking to him without raising my voice.  I noticed that he seemed to concentrate a little more on his work and did get done quicker than usual.

Daily Global Ratings

1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)     4  


Day 4

Evening:  This afternoon I had made a point not to pick my son up too early from afterschool care.  I wanted to give him a chance to do his homework.  I was hoping that he would remember to do his work and I wanted to use the opportunity to do some of my own homework.  When I picked him up from school, he had only done a small portion of one worksheet.  I was a little angry with him because I was tired of him not completing his work.  I thought to myself "What do I need to do to make him understand how important it is for him to do his work on time?  What is the key?  He is determined that he's going to do only what he wants to do."  When we got in the car to come home, I almost started questioning him again.  Then I remembered to control my emotions.  I thought to myself "Don't yell at him.  It isn't working and all it does it make him upset because I am yelling at him.  I don't want my son to grow up remembering mom as someone that was always angry at him."  When we got home, I calmly told him to "please remember to do more of your work in afterschool care so that you don't have so much to do at home.  Then you can have more time to go out and play with your friends."  I was amazed at how quickly he got to work without me having to tell him several times.  There were a few problems that he didn't understand so I helped him.  In the past he would not really pay attention when I was helping him.  Today however, he listened so that I didn't have to spend much time before he understood himself.  

Daily Global Ratings

1.  What was my stongest stress point today:  (1=very weak; 10=extreme)     1